CHICAGO – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) will preside over a public hearing on Tuesday, December 6th to address historic disparities within the state’s pension investment firms and identify prospects for progress. Senator Raoul has been a long-time advocate for increased opportunities for Minority and Women-owned Businesses (M/WBE) in Illinois.

“A healthy Illinois business community should mean fair opportunities for all,” Raoul said. “This hearing is an opportunity to inform minority and women financial service professionals, get vital public input, and review the progress public pension funds have made in their M/WBE inclusion policy.”

As Chairman of the Senate Pensions and Investments Committee, Raoul has held annual hearings focusing on the engagement of M/WBE with the state’s pension firms, the General Assembly’s efforts to encourage pension funds to diversify the financial service firms they utilize and other key issues.

WHO: State Senator Kwame Raoul, Senate Pensions and Investments Committee members, M/WBE community and other business professionals

WHAT: Public Hearing on M/WBE inclusion in Pension Investments

WHEN: 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WHERE: Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., 6th Floor Committee Room.  Chicago, IL 60601

SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) sponsored and passed legislation to strengthen an existing law which mandates that those who are convicted of corruption must forfeit their profits.  House Bill 909 expands the Public Corruption Profit Forfeiture Act so that those who fraudulently obtain money reserved for minority or women owned businesses must return all profits, property and property interest to the state.

“We are already falling short with supporting women and minority businesses in Illinois, and I have been an advocate to address this issue,” Senator Raoul said. “We cannot allow this problem to be exacerbated by those who seek to fraudulently put themselves forth as a minority or women owned business.”

The specific charges that the expanded Public Corruption Profit Forfeiture Act will address include bribery, kickbacks and intimidation of a public official. Raoul worked with the Attorney General Lisa Madigan on this legislation.

“Businesses that defraud the taxpayers cannot be allowed to profit from their illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Madigan. “This bill will make it easier to go after those profits and make sure that defrauding programs designed to benefit legitimate businesses does not pay.”

The Office of the Attorney General indicted Robert Blum and Castle Construction Corporation for fraudulently obtaining public money reserved for disadvantaged businesses in 2009, resulting in a March 2011 conviction. Subsequently, the Attorney General sued Blum and Castle for their actions, but a review of the defendant’s assets by the courts concluded they were no longer liable. HB 909 will correct this type of discrepancy.

The legislation has passed out of the Illinois General Assembly and will head to Governor Pat Quinn to be signed into law.

raoul-sealThe Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 and Redistricting Transparency and Public Participation Act will serve as a game changer in the upcoming redistricting process.

“The Senate’s Redistricting Committee has taken redistricting reform very seriously since its creation.

Republicans and Democrats weren’t able to agree on a constitutional amendment this spring but it’s good to see the Senate pass legislation on a bipartisan basis today to change the status quo,” said Senate Redistricting Chair Kwame Raoul. “This legislation will protect minority voting rights and encourage public participation.”

The workers’ compensation reform package approved by the General Assembly should be considered a beginning, not a time for unfurling a “mission accomplished” banner.The package is a good first step toward controlling costs. But it is only a first step.

The biggest move is a 30 percent reduction in the medical fee schedule for doctors. That still leaves Illinois with among the highest compensation rates in the country. If passage of this bill is used as an excuse to turn away from further reform, it will hurt more than help Illinois’ competitiveness in attracting more jobs.

The “reform” still doesn’t address the “causation” standard. The Illinois State Chamber of Commerce wanted the standard raised so that the workplace would have to be the major contributing cause of an accident or injury.

Read more: Workers' comp measure a step in right direction

raoul-reformSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D–Chicago) has passed legislation making substantial reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. These reforms make the state economic climate more attractive and save Illinois businesses more than $500 million. House Bill 1698 addresses abuses in the system, while still ensuring that legitimately injured workers can file and receive their claims.

Initially House Bill 1698 passed out of the Senate and failed in the Illinois House. After being reconsidered in the House, the measure passed on Tuesday and will now head to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk for approval.

Senator Raoul negotiated with members of the business community, medical community, trial lawyers and labor unions to reach an agreement on workers’ compensation. After months of talks, this legislation represents a consensus between most of the parties involved.

Read more: Reform saves Illinois Businesses more than $500 million